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Travel guide Sydney City & East

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Spectacular Sydney
  • Chinese New Year
  • The races
  • Mardi Gras

Sydney regularly appears in the list of top cities around the world – and with good reason!  It has a wonderful climate and a location like no other Australian city.  Spectacularly located on one of the world’s most beautiful natural harbours, the city and suburbs follow the ridges and valleys in such a way that there is a view around almost every corner, with the sparkling waterways acting like a glittering magnet.

The climate is welcoming all year round, but the most beautiful times of the year are the mild autumn and glorious spring, when the sometimes-oppressive heat of summer is just a memory.  Even in winter the city enjoys a mild climate, perfect for getting out and about and seeing all that is on offer.

What to do

Your problem won’t be what to do … but how to choose between the myriad activities on offer!  Sydney is a city that offers you all the choice in the world, and then some!  It is ideal for families, couples, singles, and groups – in fact every type of traveller will find something to take their fancy.

Here is just the start of a list, where it ends is limited only by the amount of time and money you have at your disposal …

•    Get the best view of the city from a ferry to Manly, a beachside suburb that abounds in great shops, restaurants and attractions.
•    Climb the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and have a bird’s-eye view of the city and beyond.
•    Drive along the coast to Palm Beach and marvel at the views.  Some of the waterfront houses in the area cost up to $20000 a week to rent in the high season.  Fortunately TakeABreak has some great accommodation options in the area at a much more reasonable cost!
•    Head for the Blue Mountains and enjoy respite from the heat in summer or Christmas in July in winter.  The mountains offer heritage homes, great restaurants, fascinating shops and breathtaking views from almost every point.  The Blue Mountains also abound with a variety of accommodation, from hotels, to B&Bs and almost everything in between.
•    No trip to Sydney could be complete without a visit to Bondi Beach.  Sydney abounds with gorgeous beaches, but the sweeping crescent of Bondi is famous worldwide and is only 20 minutes from the heart of the city.  Like many of the landmarks, it is accessible by public transport.

The city centre offers fabulous shopping – from casual to couture, as do many of the regional centres found in the suburbs.  The Queen Victoria Building is one of the most stunning examples of Victorian architecture in Sydney and houses a superb collection of designer and specialty stores and eateries.

Another heritage masterpiece is the Strand Arcade, which is home to some of Australia’s top designer labels, jewellers, boutiques and beauty salons.

David Jones is Sydney’s oldest department store and has a style all its own.  It is famous for the fabulous display of flowers throughout spring and also for the theme windows at Christmas.

Museums and galleries
Just as you are spoiled for choice with shopping, so Sydney’s cultural side also serves up a smorgasbord of choice – the ones below are just a sample.

•    The Australian Museum is the oldest in the country and helps you to discover the cultural diversity and natural history of Australia.  You could easily spend a day there, but a morning will allow you to see the major galleries.
•     The Art Gallery of NSW is set in the magnificent gardens of the Domain and the building alone is worth a visit, to say nothing of the contents.  It showcases one of the finest collections of Australian art, including the Yiribana Gallery – the world’s largest permanent collection of Aboriginal art.
•    The Museum of Sydney is built on the ruins of Governor Philip’s 1788 house and has displays of Sydney’s colonial history, the environment and aboriginality.
•    Australia’s most important collection of contemporary art can be found at the Museum of Contemporary Art at Circular Quay.

Sydney also abounds in beautiful gardens and parks, which give you the opportunity to do as much or as little as you please.  Visit the Royal Botanic Gardens on the waterfront for peace, relaxation, education and a symphony of horticultural sights and smells.  The nearby Domain is an unexpected open space in the heart of the city, and is regular host to concerts, joggers and lunchtime games such as touch football.  Centennial Park is nearby in the eastern suburbs and is 220 hectares of horse and bike riding, cricket, picnics, kite flying, bird watching and more. An unexpected treasure to be found at Darling Harbour (a harbour-side mixture of shops, activities, restaurants and cinemas) is the Chinese Garden of Friendship – an enclosed haven of tranquillity and harmony, featuring pavilions, lakes, waterfalls and a traditional Chinese teahouse.

What about the kids?
If you can drag them away from the beaches, a must-see is Taronga Zoo, where the animals have probably the best view in Sydney!  Or take them to Oceanworld at Manly or the Sydney Aquarium where they can explore Australia’s rich and diverse waterways – and even find Nemo!  Sydney Tower takes you to the highest point above Sydney for a breathtaking 360 degree view from the beaches to the mountains.

How to get there
An international airport, international port, railways and major highways make Sydney an easily accessible place. All major airlines and bus companies travel to Sydney.  There is a rail link from the airport into the CBD, which means you don’t have to hire a car if you don’t want to.

Whether you are hoping to relax in a self-contained apartment, luxury hotel, quaint bed & breakfast or prefer the adventure of towing a caravan around Sydney and surrounds, you will find the perfect Sydney accommodation at TakeABreak.com.au

Ideal length of visit
Sydney has so much to do and see that you really need at least a week to scratch the surface.  If you have more time at your disposal, you will never run out of things to do as Sydney is a city that unfolds as you get to know her, and offers much more than the few things mentioned in this article.

Further information
Head to See Sydney for more ideas on what to see and do in this city of surprises


Lisa Monk is a marketing communications writer with a diverse background that includes experience in travel, hotel, finance, public relations and advertising. She has worked with Club Med, the Holiday Inn group and on a number of other travel projects on a freelance basis. Lisa has travelled throughout Asia Pacific, North America and Great Britain.
Lisa now works with TakeABreak.com.au as editor of the Holiday Inspirations newsletter and other publications. She lives in Sydney with her husband Andy, and sons Joseph and Nicholas.

About the author
Find out more about Lisa at http://bit.ly/h_experts

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  We always stay somewhere near Darling Harbour. Its just a short walk or monorail ride into the centre of town. Don't miss walking around the Rocks (near the harbour west of circular quay). I recommend the botanic gardens on a sunny day. But if you just do one thing, take a harbour cruise - its well worth the price for a good dinner-cruise, enjoy the best views of the city over a restuarant meal - great.
Posted on Jul 06 2007 at 06:23

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